A small girl with huge stage presence rocked Metropolis Saturday night. Known as M.I.A., this Sri Lanka native conquered the concert hall the minute she grabbed the mic. On tour with openers Spank Rock, XXXChange, and Devlin and Darko, these artists played to a packed house and created a night of extremely unique, creative and purely danceable hip hop.
The show got started with DJs Devlin and Darko mixing classic songs from the 60’s, rock and roll, funk, and even the theme from the Triplets of Belleville, with beats that had the whole place grooving in no time. The songs were mixed, scratched and spun into a beautiful blend of music that appealed to close to every ear in the room.
By the end of their first song these guys had the energy so high, hands were in the air, people were dancing, smiles were everywhere. The DJs were having just as much fun as the crowd, putting their hands up when they weren’t on the turntables and dancing in place while grinning from ear to ear. When Spank Rock and XXXChange joined the stage with mics in hand, the foursome delivered some truly original hip hop with style.
Hailing from Baltimore, MD these guys have talent that’s bound to make an impact as word gets around. The crowd was hooked and with that accomplished, the DJs and MCs gave the spotlight over to the main event, M.I.A.
As the DJ started spinning her first song, the crowd cheered and she trotted out, front and center, to kick her set off with “Pull Up The People”. And pull them up she did. This girl is something special. The daughter of a Tamil Tiger revolutionary, M.I.A. moved to London, England as a refugee. That politically charged history is now being channelled into music that is all at once gritty, fresh and utterly addictive.
Through songs like “Fire Fire”, “Galang” and “Bucky Done Gun” the beats had the whole room moving, and the chemistry between the crowd and M.I.A. was palpable. The people in the wings backstage were even dancing and singing along.
The stage was set up with a stencilled backdrop, coloured prayer flags, a model helicopter and palm tree lit up with white lights, and a wooden tiger that together made you feel as if you’d just been dropped in the middle of some kind of surreal jungle. The atmosphere, the music, everything was uniquely M.I.A.
Song after song she had the crowd singing, dancing and entranced. For such a slip of a girl, this lady’s got presence. She performs from a place that isn’t just trying to please the audience, it’s true passion. She projects a confidence and character that is rare in the pop and hip hop scene.
The thing that really sets her apart is her attitude. She knows who she is, what she’s about. Dressed in a big pink cotton T-shirt and sequinned black pants, she’s no pop tart but she’s still got serious style. Her songs are meaningful without being preachy, the sound is so danceable it should be on the playlist at every party, and overall she is one of the most unique acts to ever grace a Montreal stage. If you haven’t already, you’ll want to add all of her tunes to your music collection.